It’s All About the Revenue: Creative Uses of Gift Cards in Marketing and Promotions

By Monique Brown, Client Services

As an industry, we can do gift cards a disservice by referring to them simply as “gift cards.” Since joining this side of e-commerce over three years ago, it has always felt like an insufficient, limited description of the ecosystem of prepaid commerce to me. Prepaid commerce can be so much more than simply ‘I send you’ a digital gift.
While, as marketers, we can struggle with finding new ways to make our efforts stand out in an increasingly crowded omni-channel landscape, gift cards have proven to be an effective incentive to drive purchases and, ultimately, grow revenue. Gift cards should be part of every savvy marketer’s plan – and ultimately, there are two types of marketing where gift cards play a role in driving revenue. First, there’s marketing to drive the sale of digital gift cards themselves, whether online or in-store. Second, there’s the use of gift cards within marketing promotions to incentivize the purchase of products or services. I think the latter is where prepaid commerce starts to get really interesting. This larger notion of leveraging branded currency and the prepaid commerce infrastructure in a wide range of marketing objectives is very compelling. As you start to brainstorm, the world really becomes your gift card oyster.

At CashStar’s annual Innovate conference in Chicago this week, a panel focused on how leading brands have successfully leveraged gift cards in marketing efforts to get real results. As our panelists explained, it can be a delicate balance: how do you motivate your customers with an offer that’s enticing enough to prompt a purchase or a visit to your restaurant, yet effective enough to have a positive ROI? How do you think outside of the box and consider how to integrate prepaid commerce into the tried and true marketing initiatives that resonate with your target audiences?

Our panelists have seen success with a variety of approaches:

  • Landry’s Inc., one of the leaders in dining, hospitality and entertainment, has seen success with an integrated gift card program that offers both plastic and digital options for its customers. To drive diners to specific locations, Laudry’s used geo-targeting, consistent email marketing and social media in conjunction with a prepaid commerce offer, as opposed to a simple call to action, as an incentive.
  • Spafinder Wellness, Inc.®, the world’s largest media, marketing and gifting company for the wellness industry, focuses its efforts on a multitude of flash promotions and incentives, such as triple rewards points and free shipping on the purchase of Spafinder Wellness 365™ Gift Cards. Driven by robust search and online marketing campaigns and incentive partnerships, the promotions support the company’s mission to help people live well all year round.​

Through these illustrative examples from our panelists, we’re starting to see how integral prepaid commerce can be to driving overall marketing performance. It offers an incentive to secure a prepaid customer before they even land on your website or walk through your doors. It encourages brand loyalists to commit to a purchase before they’ve even selected a product. It draws diners into restaurants before they’ve even planned a night out. In short, prepaid commerce is a marketing slam dunk.

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